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Don’t Think Twice, It’s “Alt-right”: Nazi Fellow Traveler Chuck Johnson Helping Trump Transition Team

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The group Charles "Chuck" Johnson networked with in Washingon D.C.

The group Charles “Chuck” Johnson networked with in Washingon D.C.

Charles "Chuck" Johnson

Charles “Chuck” Johnson

COMMENT: Notorious troll, blogger and Nazi/white-supremacist fellow traveler Charles “Chuck” Johnson has substantive input in Trump’s cabinet selections. Worth noting is the fact that Johnson may be operating in tandem with Peter Thiel, whose database named the “Plum List” bears a striking similarity to a website “ThePlumlist.com,” apparently being used by Johnson to help staff Trump’s administration.

“ . . . . Despite his disregard for facts and reckless approach to publishing, Johnson, who was recently photographed at a dinner attended by white supremacists in Washington, D.C., built a significant following among many who self-identified as being a part of the ‘alt-right.’ Trump drew significant support from those same followers during the election. . . . .”

Johnson is now apparently secretly helping the Trump team staff the Executive Branch despite being an open white supremacist neo-Nazi troll. Or perhaps because of that. Either way, if this report is accurate he’s not just passing along a few suggestions to Peter Thiel. He helped create a database of potential appointees:

” . . . . Johnson also helped create a database where potential political appointees could send in their resumes to be considered for government positions. He has access to the website ThePlumlist.com, and though the recently created website remains dormant, candidates have been told to send their information to an email account associated with that domain. In November, The Daily Mail reported that Thiel maintains a database called the “Plum List” to track potential hires and qualified applicants. Sources familiar with the situation described the list as an intake system for the team, and said it was separate from the version that Thiel and his closest associates use to track final selections that are forwarded to Trump. . . .” 

While Charles C. Johnson may not technically be the Helene von Damm of the Trump administration (the Director of Presidential Personnel is John DeStefano), he may well be playing a similar role.

In that context, we note that John DeStanfo was only named the Director of Presidential Personnel about a week ago, suggesting that the Trump team has probably been a lot more dependent on the recommendations of folks like Thiel and Johnson for the first couple months of the transition period than they want to admit.

Those wondering if Trump was going to be filling his administration with “Alt-Right” neo-Nazis, the answer appears to be that he already is, and those neo-Nazis are helping him pick the rest of his staff.

Recall that Thiel also bankrolled Ron Paul’s Super Pac in the 2012 election. Paul moves in white supremacist circles as well.

“A Troll Outside Trump Tower Is Helping To Pick Your Next Government” by Ryan Mac and Matt Drange; Forbes; 1/9/2017.

An internet troll, who was once called “the most hated man on the internet” and is banned from Twitter, is recommending candidates to serve in the Trump administration.

Charles “Chuck” Johnson, a controversial blogger and conservative online personality, has been pushing for various political appointees to serve under Donald Trump, according to multiple sources close to the President-elect’s transition team. While Johnson does not have a formal position, FORBES has learned that he is working behind the scenes with members of the transition team’s executive committee, including billionaire Trump donor Peter Thiel, to recommend, vet and give something of a seal of approval to potential nominees from the so-called “alt-right.”

The proximity to power is something new for Johnson, a self-described “journalist, author and debunker of frauds,” who has made a name for himself by peddling false information and right-wing conspiracy theories online. In the months leading up to the election, Johnson, 28, used social media and his website GotNews.com to stump for the President-elect while also publishing misinformation on Trump’s detractors. Now, Johnson is helping to pick some of the leaders who may run the country for the next four years.

FORBES verified Johnson’s involvement with multiple people close to the transition team who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. When asked about his work with the transition team, Johnson said last month that he had “no formal role,” and was vague regarding his level of influence. Johnson agreed to multiple phone and email interviews with FORBES in December, but he declined to return repeated follow-up requests for comment this month.

“Whether I am listened to or not remains to be seen,” Johnson wrote in an email to FORBES in December. “I am by and large pretty happy with the government selected thus far, though I am sorry to say that a lot of the candidates that I favor have not been selected.”

Johnson’s statements came before his appearance on an online radio show with libertarian blogger Stefan Molyneux on Dec. 22 during which Johnson declared that he had been “doing a lot of vetting for the administration and the Trump transition.”

The disclosure of Johnson’s involvement comes at a time of intense scrutiny for Trump’s transition team, whose cabinet picks will begin Senate confirmation hearings this week. Those hearings are moving forward despite the fact that, as of this weekend, the Office of Government Ethics had not completed its review of multiple appointees. It is unprecedented for the Senate to hold confirmation hearings for a President-elect’s nominees before formal background checks are completed.

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks did not return a request for comment. Jeremiah Hall, a spokesman for Thiel, declined to comment.

While Twitter banned Johnson in May 2015 after threatening a Black Lives Matters activist, he made a name for himself as an internet troll, or an online personality who antagonizes others by posting inflammatory or misleading information. Among his exploits, Johnson has published the home addresses of New York Times reporters, wrongly identified a woman he thought was the source of Rolling Stone’s now-retracted story of an alleged rape at the University of Virginia and claimed that President Barack Obama is gay.

“On Twitter, like, I have a certain kind of personality, a pugnaciousness, like an alter ego,” he said in 2014 to Mother Jones. “You know, like when Spider-Man puts on the costume, for instance, he’s no longer a mild-mannered photographer. He has an attitude. I do that because I want my content to really go viral.”

Johnson portrays GotNews as an alternative to the “lying mainstream media.” He said it receives 2.5 million page views per month. (Quantcast estimated in the last 30 days that about 246,000 people have visited the site.) Recent stories include a piece on Senator Ted Cruz’s supposedly imminent Supreme Court nomination and another on Trump’s “biggest regret” in supporting John McCain’s 2016 Senate re-election run.

Despite his disregard for facts and reckless approach to publishing, Johnson, who was recently photographed at a dinner attended by white supremacists in Washington, D.C., built a significant following among many who self-identified as being a part of the “alt-right.” Trump drew significant support from those same followers during the election.

Mike Cernovich, another pro-Trump troll who is friends with Johnson, said that Johnson often has a hand in behind-the-scenes politics. “The media really likes to hate on [Johnson],” Cernovich said. “But if they knew how influential he has been–in ways they didn’t know–it would be kind of mind blowing.”

Johnson, who boldly predicted against conventional wisdom and polls that Trump would win, and who was spotted in the VIP section at Trump’s election night party, began working with the transition team shortly after Nov. 8. Among his contacts within Manhattan’s Trump Tower, where the President-elect has set up camp, is Thiel, a member of the transition’s executive committee. A PayPal cofounder and Facebook board member whose vast network of Silicon Valley connections has made him invaluable to the President-elect, Thiel has overseen many of the science and technology appointments for the incoming administration.

Johnson has helped in that effort, pushing for at least a dozen potential candidates to Thiel, including Ajit Pai, a commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, whom Johnson hopes will lead the organization under Trump. Pai declined to comment for this story. As a Republican member of the FCC, Pai is a natural candidate to be considered for the chairmanship of the agency, and Johnson’s recommendation suggests he’s also favored by a segment of the self-described “alt-right.”

Beyond recommending candidates, Johnson has also helped set up meetings between potential appointees and transition team members. He has worked with Jim O’Neill, who is being considered to head the Food and Drug Administration and is currently employed by Thiel at San Francisco-based investment firm Mithril Capital. Johnson has tried to arrange for O’Neill to meet with conservative influencers and political groups in an effort to build support for his potential FDA nomination. O’Neill declined to comment.

Johnson also helped create a database where potential political appointees could send in their resumes to be considered for government positions. He has access to the website ThePlumlist.com, and though the recently created website remains dormant, candidates have been told to send their information to an email account associated with that domain. In November, The Daily Mail reported that Thiel maintains a database called the “Plum List” to track potential hires and qualified applicants. Sources familiar with the situation described the list as an intake system for the team, and said it was separate from the version that Thiel and his closest associates use to track final selections that are forwarded to Trump.

Johnson denied working with Thiel, and said the two had “only a passing familiarity.” Johnson added that he and Thiel “share some of the same enemies,” a reference to the now defunct news organization, Gawker Media. Thiel secretly bankrolled former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan’s landmark invasion of privacy lawsuit against the New York media organization, which ultimately led to the company’s bankruptcy. Separately, Johnson sued Gawker in a California court for defamation after the website published a series of critical and abrasive stories about him.

FORBES previously reported that Johnson, while exploring representation for his case, had a phone discussion with lawyers at Harder Mirell & Abrams, the law firm that Thiel paid to represent Hogan, and that Johnson’s case had been pitched to other Los Angeles law firms as part of a wider legal strategy against Gawker. Johnson’s lawsuit remains on hold, pending a hearing later this month in federal bankruptcy court to determine the fate of Gawker Media’s remaining assets.

If Gawker is Johnson and Thiel’s shared enemy, then Trump advisor and chief strategist Stephen Bannon is their most prominent mutual ally. Johnson worked for Bannon at Breitbart News, where Bannon served as executive chairman before joining Trump’s campaign last year. “I liked [Bannon], and was close to him,” Johnson said in a December phone interview.

Last fall, Johnson and Bannon led an effort prior to the second presidential debate in October to stage a press conference with Trump and four women who have accused Bill Clinton of rape, sexual assault or sexual harassment and Hillary Clinton of protecting an alleged sexual criminal. Johnson claimed to have helped raise more than $10,000 for one of those women, Kathleen Shelton–who alleged that she was raped in 1975 by a man who Hillary Clinton later represented as a public defender–to attend the event.

While Johnson denied his recent work with Thiel, he freely discussed his efforts to influence the transition team through his old boss, Bannon. Still, Johnson insisted that while Bannon takes his opinion into consideration, his recommendations are sometimes ignored. “Imagine you had an ex-boss who became the consigliere to the President of the United States,” Johnson told FORBES last month. “You can’t be like, ‘Dude, you’re f***ing up.’”

Alexandra Preate, a spokesperson for Bannon, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The full extent of Johnson’s involvement in the transition is not clear, though several of his associates have also interfaced with the team in recent weeks. FORBES has learned that Cernovich and Jeff Giesea, a Washington, D.C.-based entrepreneur who worked for Thiel in the past, have also been in contact with transition team members, according to sources. Giesea declined to comment, while Cernovich discussed the transition team’s agenda but remained vague when pressed for details of his own work.

“I want to be free to say whatever I want to say. And in a way that limits what I can do officially,” Cernovich said, denying that he has had any direct communication with Thiel or other members of the transition team. “I don’t want anyone to get jammed up, vis-à-vis any association with me.”

Cernovich and Giesea have also organized a party for Trump supporters in Washington, D.C. later this month dubbed the “DeploraBall.” Cernovich said that 1,000 tickets have been sold for the event, which is billed as “the biggest meme ever” and will take place at the National Press Club on the eve of Trump’s inauguration. Johnson said the event was about giving voice to a group of people who, until Trump’s landmark victory in November, were often ignored by the political establishment. When asked if he felt that he had gotten credit for his recent work, Johnson said, “Not as much as I deserve.”

Johnson attributed much of the work that he and others have done in support of Trump to being able to tap into voters’ emotions through memes, such as the Pepe the Frog cartoon that became an informal mascot for Trump supporters. Johnson said that memes represent a new way for people to discuss national politics, which he said is dominated by a “white paper” mindset predicated on debating policy merits based on fact rather than emotion. To hear Johnson tell it, the success of this approach is evidenced by the visceral reaction to memes that generated widespread attention and influenced public perception during Trump’s rise to power, despite having little or no basis in fact.

 

Discussion

One comment for “Don’t Think Twice, It’s “Alt-right”: Nazi Fellow Traveler Chuck Johnson Helping Trump Transition Team”

  1. This next article has some very interesting information about Chuck Johnson. Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) confirmed to TPM Wednesday that he’d had “a discussion” with Holocaust denier and right-wing troll Chuck C. Johnson. He issued a statement which said he “had a discussion involving his business with genetic sequencing,” This reference is interesting and I have to wonder if it includes themes such as racial superiority. Johnson raised money for white supremacist Richard Spencer’s legal defense fund.

    The article also reveals that Johnson “attended a meeting in the Ecuadorian embassy in London with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. He subsequently met with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who I suspect that along with his father appears to support Nazi causes.

    An October 2017 Dailey Caller article listed below shows that Republican California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher met with Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul last Thursday and discussed leveraging Paul’s close relationship with President Donald Trump to let the president know that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is willing to divulge information about the source of leaked emails. The question one has to ask is why would a Congressman and Senator contact Julian Assange who has released US classified documents to the public. Is this not treasonous behavior by those elected officials or are they part of a very complex plot to serve fascist interests?

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/andy-harris-unware-chuck-johnson-holocaust-denier-previous-associations

    GOP Rep. Says He Was ‘Unaware’ Of Holocaust Denier Chuck Johnson’s ‘Previous Associations’
    Matt Shuham

    Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call Group
    January 16, 2019 7:00 pm

    Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) confirmed to TPM Wednesday that he’d had “a discussion” with Holocaust denier and right-wing troll Chuck C. Johnson.

    In a statement Harris’ press secretary shared with TPM Wednesday evening, the congressman said he was “unaware of his previous associations.”

    “I am unaware of his previous associations, but we had a discussion involving his business with genetic sequencing,” the statement read. “Of course I disavow and condemn white supremacy and anti-semitism.”

    HuffPost’s Matt Fuller posted a picture of Harris and Johnson, alongside someone who appeared to be Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), on Wednesday:

    Johnson, whose website once raised money for white supremacist Richard Spencer’s legal defense fund, has ties to other members of Congress, as well.

    Last year, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was criticized for giving Johnson a ticket to the State of the Union address. (Gaetz told the Daily Beast that Johnson just “showed up at my office,” and that he had no prior relationship with him.)

    And, the year prior, Johnson attended a meeting in the Ecuadorian embassy in London with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Soon after, Rohrabacher brought Johnson to a meeting with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

    “I do not and never have believed the six million figure,” Johnson wrote in a 2017 Reddit AMA (“Ask Me Anything”), first flagged by Little Green Footballs, referring to Jews who were killed in the Holocaust.

    Johnson later claimed “I am not, nor have I ever been a Holocaust denier,” and said the comments were, in Mother Jones’ words, “part of a secret trolling experiment he was running.”

    Linked Article:
    https://dailycaller.com/2017/10/10/rohrabacher-rand-paul-met-to-discuss-assange-giving-up-wikileaks-source-to-us-government/

    ROHRABACHER, RAND PAUL MET TO DISCUSS ASSANGE GIVING UP WIKILEAKS SOURCE TO US GOVERNMENT
    2:10 PM 10/10/2017 | POLITICS
    Alex Pfeiffer | White House Correspondent
    Republican California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher met with Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul last Thursday and discussed leveraging Paul’s close relationship with President Donald Trump to let the president know that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is willing to divulge information about the source of leaked emails.

    Rep. Rohrabacher told The Daily Caller about the meeting during a phone interview Tuesday.
    “Rand Paul says the president calls him every now and then. I wanted to make sure that when [Trump] calls him that [Paul] knew enough about the Julian Assange offer that I found something of value for the president to look at,” Rohrabacher told TheDC.

    He added that Paul was “very open to the idea of mentioning it to the president next time the president called him.”

    Sen. Paul’s office declined to comment. Rohrabacher said that Paul was joined by a few of his staffers, and that the California congressman brought along top aide Paul Behrends and conservative journalist Charles C. Johnson.

    Rohrabacher met with Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in August in a meeting that Johnson claimed to have arranged. Assange took asylum in the embassy in 2012 after facing sexual assault charges in Sweden that have since been dropped. The California congressman told TheDC that Assange wants to leave the embassy and would need a deal with the U.S. in order to do so. (RELATED: Rohrabacher Says Assange Could Be Pardoned For Info About DNC Leak Source)
    The meeting with Paul came a week after Rohrabacher told TheDC that top White House aides are blocking information about the WikiLeaks founder’s offer to prove that Russia was not behind the hacking and leaking of Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 election. The U.S. intelligence community has alleged that the Kremlin was, in fact, involved. 

    The Justice Department is reportedly investigating Assange for his role in disseminating thousands of classified documents. Rohrabacher said that Assange wouldn’t necessarily need a pardon from President Trump in order to give up the source of the emails, just an assurance that he won’t be prosecuted.

    Update:
    Assange disputed some of Rohrabacher’s comments in a tweet Wednesday.

    “Disgraceful reporting. WikiLeaks never has and never will reveal a source. Offers have been made to me–not the other way around. I do not speak to the public through third parties,” Assange tweeted in response to this article.

    Rohrabacher’s spokesman Ken Grubbs told TheDC that the congressman stands by all of his remarks.

    Posted by Mary Benton | January 18, 2019, 5:25 pm

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